See How The Apartment Influenced Mad Men

Anna Green

When Billy Wilder’s The Apartment was released in 1960, it was one of the first major Hollywood films to dramatize and critique white collar office life in America. The Oscar-winning film is a comic indictment of the anonymity and sexism of the mid-20th century workplace, and it continues to inspire filmmakers to this day. Nowhere is the film’s ongoing influence more visible than in the hit TV show Mad Men (2007-2015) which, like The Apartment, depicted everyday life in the offices of a Manhattan company.

In “MAD MEN Movies: The Apartment,” film critic and historian Matt Zoller Seitz outlines the ways in which Wilder’s masterpiece influenced Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. Seitz, who has previously written books about Brad Pitt and Wes Anderson, published a critical companion to Mad Men in 2015. Here, he looks specifically at the aesthetic and thematic similarities between the classic comedy-drama and Weiner’s period piece.

“Matthew Weiner has said that The Apartment is one of the main influences on his series—not just on the situations, but on the blend of laughs and pathos, the psychologically astute characterizations, and the sense of a Manhattan office as a stage where intense personal dramas can play out,” Zoller Seitz explains. Check out his excellent video essay above.

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